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Scottish HIV Conviction Raises Serious Concerns

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The conviction today in Scotland of Richard Devereaux on four counts of culpable and reckless conduct raises serious concerns. 

Mr Devereaux has admitted having unprotected sex with four different women whilst knowing he was HIV positive but without disclosing the fact to his sexual partners. One of the women became infected with HIV as a result, but the three others did not.
With reference to the three women who were not infected, it appears the conviction is the first time anyone in the UK with HIV has been convicted of a crime of exposing someone to the risk of HIV transmission, even where no HIV infection took place.
NAT is strongly opposed to punishing people with HIV for having unprotected sex where no transmission occurs. This is not a crime in England and Wales, and should not be a crime in Scotland. A substantial proportion of the population engage in unprotected sex with new and casual sexual partners, knowing this poses risks to themselves and to those they have sex with. 
Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of NAT (the National AIDS Trust) said,
“It is totally unjust to single out people with an HIV diagnosis for punishment for unprotected sex – we all need to be wiser and safer, looking after ourselves and those we have sex with. Most HIV transmissions are from people who have never had an HIV test. We recommend that the Scottish Executive change the law so that people with HIV cannot be charged with culpable and reckless conduct if no transmission took place.”

Notes to the Editor:

For further information please contact:
Katherine Sladden
Communications Officer
020 7814 6733
NAT (National AIDS Trust) is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to transforming society’s response to HIV. We provide fresh thinking, expert advice and practical resources. We campaign for change.
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